Eye of newt

Why Halloween lenses are nothing but toil and trouble

Pumpkin witch

It could be as simple as a sheet with eye holes or well fashioned toilet paper, the Halloween costumes of my youth were always nice and easy. And dressing up was such a treat when I was little – it’s fair to say I’ve had some successful short-lived stints as a witch, Disney princess, cat, tiger, even a mechanic. Alongside the years of costume changes came the excitement of visiting our friends and neighbours for sweet treats – that’s what it was all about. 

Fast forward 20 years and gone are the days of trick or treating. Now the invitations are for over-the-top house parties and Halloween-themed club nights (there’s only so many times you can listen to Thriller in one night!).  

No doubt there are still cats and witches lurking about but not the cute version I remember. Each year the make-up trends get more outlandish and quite frankly the idea of dressing up gives me dread, especially with the new risks that seem to come along with it.  

Working for the Association of Optometrists certainly raises your awareness of some of the most common, and lesser known, eye health horrors. This includes the recurring story that rears its ugly head each Autumn – some poor, unsuspecting person has worn illegal zero-powered contact lenses (often the finishing touch to any convincing costume) and contracted an infection, or worse, as a result. 

Yes, they’re cheap to buy and easy to access online and off, but by law cosmetic contact lenses can only be supplied under the supervision of a registered optometrist, dispensing optician or a medical practitioner, and when ignored, it can have some nasty consequences. 

The truth is, you just don’t know what they’re really made from. Illegal contact lenses could contain poor quality or outdated materials and may have even failed a safety check. They also don’t usually come with any advice on how to wear or store them – which is often the reason people experience problems. 

To help make sure your contact lenses don’t ruin the party this Halloween, we’ve issued eight tips on how to buy and wear them safely – including all the gruesome reasons why you should avoid the illegal kind. Remember, unlike that ghoulish monster costume, you only have one set of eyes!      

Philomena Obasi-Adams is the Marketing and PR Officer at the Association of Optometrists